Sunderland satisfied as Evans bids to upset
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Friday, July 25, 2008

Sunderland satisfied as Evans bids to upset

by Agence France-Presse at 9:38 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 

Australian Scott Sunderland has spent three weeks trying to make sure compatriot Cadel Evans loses the Tour de France.

Now Sunderland, a co-team manager with CSC, is preparing for the distinct possibility that Evans will upset his race leader Carlos Sastre in Saturday's penultimate stage time trial.

Sastre goes into the 53km race against the clock with a 1min 34sec advantage on Silence-Lotto leader Evans, and with the yellow jersey on his back.

But despite racing his 17th Grand Tour, the 33-year-old Spaniard knows that Evans, thanks to his formidable time trialling, is the big favourite to triumph in Paris this Sunday.

CSC owner Bjarne Riis has already said that whatever happens, he will be "proud" of the way his team performed throughout the Tour.

Sunderland, however, is praying Sastre punches above his weight to hand CSC their first ever Tour de France triumph. "The time trial course is not perfect for Carlos, but he's in good shape, he has the yellow jersey and a lot of motivation and he just seems to be getting better and better, he always does on the third week," Sunderland told AFP. "I think Carlos will be fresher, he hasn't been under pressure. It could be (a major factor)."

In the event of a Sastre defeat, CSC will perhaps look back at their race tactics in the Alps to see where they possibly went wrong.

Despite dominating Evans' almost non-existent Silence team in the mountains, they ultimately failed to shake Evans until Sastre's fine solo victory on the last alpine stage at the summit of Alpe d'Huez.

After seeing Frank Schleck, of CSC, take the overall lead on the first of three alpine stages, leaving Evans at just 08secs behind, the Danish team had trouble dropping the Australian. Schleck failed to take any further time on the second day in the Alps, leaving them with only stage 17 to do the damage.

Since Sastre is stronger in the time trial than Schleck, it was up to the Spaniard to take over from the Luxembourg champion and launch their bid to keep the yellow jersey.

CSC were rightly delighted with Sastre's performance, but the fact is Evans is now widely expected to overhaul his 1:34 deficit and become the first Australian winner of the race.

Sunderland believes that Evans can now thank a few teams whose respective ambitions on the way up the 13.8km climb to Alpe d'Huez allowed him to limit his losses. "In the end he only had to pull the last five kilometres out of the 13.8. I think he got off pretty lightly. If it was just Carlos against Cadel, Carlos would easily have taken another 30 seconds," added Sunderland.

Another 30 seconds in Sastre's favour ahead of Saturday's decider would have Evans a litte more anxious. And as Sastre prepares for the race of his life, Sunderland admits CSC could probably have benefited from "another mountain top finish".

Although critical of the way Silence rode while Evans had the yellow jersey, Sunderland says that whatever happens CSC will finish the Tour satisfied. "It's not just (about) having the yellow jersey in Paris. It's how you do it, how you approach it, defend it and what you do in the race," he added. "To be honest they (Silence) didn't deserve the yellow jersey. It wasn't that Cadel didn't deserve it, but the team didn't deserve it because they couldn't defend it." He added: "The way the (CSC) boys rode, the way they've taken it and defended the jersey was phenomenal. "If it ends up we don't have the jersey, if Carlos loses it by one second then so be it. That's a bike race and there's only one winner. But we've done everything possible to achieve our goals."

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